(File photo)

Seniors across Vancouver Island and BC as a whole continue to be preyed upon by malicious impersonators claiming to be their grandchild in need of money.

According to Nanaimo RCMP, the story is ever-changing but the characteristics of this specific fraud remain the same and people continue to lose money to the scam artists on the other side of the telephone. 

In the typical ‘grandson’ scam, someone will call seniors claiming to represent their grandchild and request money to help them make bail. 

Police say victims usually lose between $3,000 and $7,000.

The latest iteration of this scam that Nanaimo RCMP are trying to bring an end to is that instead of the conversation taking place over the phone, someone will arrive on seniors’ doorsteps claiming to be a bondsman. They will then request money to help their loved one out of jail.

In other cases, the “loved one” will phone and is usually very upset, saying that they were in a motor vehicle accident. Specifically, sometimes the collision includes them striking a pedestrian or even a pregnant woman, according to police.

The scammer will often say that to keep the grandchild out of jail, a bail bond is needed. Sometimes they will refer to a “gag order”, which the scammer will tell their victims means they cannot speak of the incident to anyone or they will run the risk of further consequences.

Nanaimo RCMP say the fraudsters will often refer their victims to Purolator or FedEx and instruct them how to send money and where to send it to — frequently this will be somewhere in Ontario or Quebec.

Police say on April 19th, two such incidents occurred in their jurisdiction, both of which included a “bondsman” showing up at their doorstep to collect the money. 

According to Nanaimo RCMP, both incidents involved the same suspect who is described as a dark skinned individual with a possible Middle Eastern accent. The suspect was of average build, slim build, wearing a dark COVID-style mask, afro-style hair and wearing a dark hoodie. 

In both cases, victims reported to police that the victim was on the phone with the “lawyer” when the suspect arrived at the home to collect the money.

“This scam has been around for years but every so often another layer or twist is added to it,” said R/ Cst Gary O’Brien Nanaimo RCMP. “In the latest version, it’s the bail bondsman.”

“Regardless of what you are told, if you receive a phone call that sounds anything like this, it’s a scam.”

“Do not engage with them and hang up the phone. Afterwards, be sure to tell your friends and family about the call so they do not fall for it.”

Police recommend that if someone shows up at your doorstep claiming to be a bail bondsman, do not let them inside and call 911 immediately.

Scam calls can always be reported to the Canadian Anti- Fraud Centre which has several anti-fraud resources and awareness training for anyone to access for free.

Police ask that only victims of the scam who lost money, or gave out personal information call them directly. Nanaimo RCMP can be reached at (250) 754-2345.